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Relationships

Naya-Keeping-In-Touch

by Naya

Keeping in touch with old friends can be hard, especially if they live in a different place than you. One big way people stay in touch with friends and family members is through social media. Half of social media users say that a major reason they use social media is to connect with old friends that they have lost touch with, according to the Pew Research Center. I know I definitely do this, because I moved to another state from across the country, and lost touch with some of my friends there. I connected with them again, though, using Google Hangouts and Instagram. There are many ways you can connect with old friends, with social media being a major one.

Another way you can connect with old friends is to call them on the phone, or on FaceTime. This is more direct than texting, checking Facebook, or things similar to that. I have had an experience in which I moved across the country and lost touch with a group of my school friends. On the Google Hangouts we had, they only posted stuff about homework at their school, and there were also a few new kids at my old school who had joined the hangout. I felt kind of like an outsider and tried to leave the hangout. One of my friends added me back, though, and I realized this was a pretty nice thing to do. So I try to talk to old school friends every day, and reconnect with them, so I don’t lose this relationship.

Why is keeping in touch with old friends even important? This is important because, according to Brigham Young University, if you want to live longer you should spend less time alone. To do this, you need to have good relationships with people and keep in touch with old friends. Why else is keeping in touch with old friends important? You will get more support and the source of your strength will be from good relationships with old and new friends, as well as family. Lately I have been using social media more often, and this is because I want to keep in touch with all of my friends (not to stalk celebrities on Instagram).

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Sophia-6-3-2016

by Sophia

When my mom asked me if I wanted to go to a Girl Scout meeting, I was pretty skeptical. Even though I wasn’t entirely sure what Girl Scouts did besides cookie selling, I felt like I wouldn’t be interested, and that my Sunday afternoon would just be wasted. Reading this now, you can probably guess that I was very, very wrong.

That happened last January. When I first walked into Georgia’s house, I instantly recognized several friends from elementary school—friends I didn’t see very often anymore. Chloe, Peyton, Hanora, Ruby, Georgia, Zoe, and (even though we didn’t go to school together) Lily. Four girls, I had never met: Frankie, Olivia, Naya, and Amanda. Seeing these people laugh and talk, and have a group working towards a common purpose gave me two main thoughts:

This looks fun, happy, and light—not at all as serious as I suspected.

I want to join right now.

I’m a big believer in lucky numbers. I have several “middle” lucky numbers (6, 8, 4, 9, 14, 22, 25, and 28) but my main lucky number has always been 12. I was 12 years old when my favourite book came out. 2012 was when my cousin got married and I got to be a flower girl at the best wedding ever. My favourite episode of my favourite TV show was the 12th in the season, and came out on February 12, 2012. I counted 11 girls in Troop 3225 and realized that, if I joined, I would be the twelfth member. And when you add 3+2+2+5 (Troop 3225), it equals 12. I took it as a sign.

When I announced that I wanted to join, I got a round of applause. I felt flustered, because a) I don’t like being the center of attention, and b) I thought that the people who really deserved the cheers were all the troop members that showed me the joy of Girl Scouting. I was delighted when I got my binder and vest, and everyone made it easy being the “new girl” in the troop.

Now it’s May, and I’ve never regretted my decision. Being a Girl Scout has helped me in many ways. It’s helped me meet new people and reconnect with old friends.

I got to meet Frankie’s alter ego, Bernardo, and watch her spell her name many different ways.

I got to work a few cookie booths with Olivia, and watch a helicopter land and take off nearby.

Amanda unknowingly inspired me to run for Student Council after earning her Silver Torch Award. Before listening to her presentation, I had been uninterested in running whenever the teachers brought it up. There was no way I was making a speech in front of the whole school—I hate public speaking. But somehow hearing about Amanda being on Student Council at her school got me thinking about how I could do that too.

I ran for Student Activities Coordinator against three other people, one of them being my best friend, Violet Hill. I had a feeling she would win the whole time, and you know what? She did. I was terrified the entire time I read my speech, and when I sat back down I tried not to pass out. But people kept saying my speech was good, and that was a great reward for me. Violet’s and my BFF Afton won the Publicist position, and I knew that Violet and Afton were super-pumped about being on Student Council together. I was really happy for them and refused to let myself feel sad. Because in the end, I grew closer to my good friend and that was all I needed. Until one of the teachers told us about four more Student Council positions—teacher-chosen ones. I decided I wanted to be one of the two CJSF (California Junior Scholarship Foundation) Representatives. I decided to talk to the person who chose the two representatives, Sra. Monroy.

Normally, I would have been freaked out about talking to a teacher outside of class (even though Sra. Monroy is super nice, I’m just shy), but I told myself that, after making a speech to the WHOLE SCHOOL, I could deal with one teacher. So, I talked to Sra. Monroy and she asked me if I was really, really interested in being a CJSF Representative, and I told her I was. She let me know that I was on her list, and during class (on the same day!) she pulled me and a girl who had run for President but lost, Maddy, into the hall to tell us that we’ d been chosen as the CJSF Representatives. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. I’m now on Student Council with many good friends. If I hadn’t spoken to Sra. Monroy, I probably wouldn’t have been chosen, and if I hadn’t made a speech in front of the whole school, I wouldn’t have had the courage to talk to Sra. Monroy, and if I hadn’t run for Student Council, I wouldn’t have made the speech. I wouldn’t have run for Student Council if Amanda’s presentation didn’t inspire me, and I wouldn’t have even met Amanda if I hadn’t joined Girl Scouts. Also, a side note: There were 8 Student Council positions that you could run for and 4 you could be chosen for. 8+4=12.

Life is like a large pond full of ripples, and you don’t know what ripples are going to come from what choices you make.

If I hadn’t taken a little risk and joined Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t have kissed rocks and played Uno with Frankie in Joshua Tree. I wouldn’t have returned grocery carts while cookie-boothing with Olivia, or made pizza and eaten cookies with Naya, or made paper from blue pulp with Zoe. I wouldn’t have gotten squirted by a hot tub with Chloe or thrown lemons between trees with Hanora. I wouldn’t have obsessively played a water-hoop-ring game in a museum gift shop too early in the morning with Georgia, and I most definitely wouldn’t have slept on a hard museum floor in a too-small sleeping bag being woken up by boys with flashlights and a clingy 6-year-old in a Pikachu onesie (that was a ripple I would have been willing to avoid). Joining Girl Scouts has really given my life more fun memories and potential, and I’d choose to be in this troop a thousand times over. It may not always seem easy to do something you aren’t familiar with, especially if it involves being around people you don’t know. But I’ve learned that taking risks to make new friends can bring huge rewards.

 

May-2016-Chloe

by Chloe

Let’s face it, everyone has had the long talk in class about peer pressure, and everyone had probably experienced it at some point in their life. But I don’t think everyone has had the chance to really explore every aspect of the concept. Peer pressure is always thought of as this negative thing, and yes—it can be, but there are two other parts of it that are not very well known. One being indirect peer pressure and the other being positive peer pressure.

Let’s start with the more well-known one, negative peer pressure. Imagine that your friend comes up to you in class and asks you to go to the bathroom with him/her (you know the weird rule that you always have to to take a buddy with you). However in that class, you are working on a huge project that you are afraid that you won’t finish. Since it’s your friend asking you might be more inclined to say yes. You have just given in to peer pressure, even though it might not seem like this is happening. Given that it might seem to be a minor case, think back to that huge project you are working on. If you don’t finish and get a bad grade it will bring down your overall grade in the class, which will bring down your grade point average. I’m not saying that you have to say no every time someone asks you to do something, but you have to be aware of your surroundings and recognize when that something will potentially affect your life.

Just as there is negative peer pressure, there is also positive peer pressure. This is when peers push you to excel and to do better in your life. For example, at my school, we do something called a buddy run. Basically, the fastest runners get paired up with the slowest runners and have to get the slowest runners to beat their mile time. Being an elite runner in my grade, I was paired with a boy in my class with a mental disability. I tried the hardest I could to encourage him positively and worked with him so that he felt ok and so that we were still running most of it. Our hard work paid off because he beat his time by almost a minute. This was one of the first times that he had been able to complete the run and get an A. His caretaker was thrilled, he was thrilled, and frankly I was happy too. Just helping someone else made me feel good. Since then I was asked to do other runs with him and I am so happy to have the chance to do something like that. I hope that I have had a positive impact on his life by helping him in P.E., by encouraging him during runs and asking him to be on teams with me.

The last one is indirect peer pressure. This can go in two directions, positive or negative. First, let’s talk about the negative indirect peer pressure. This happens when someone’s actions or words that are not necessarily directed towards you cause you to be more inclined or want to do that action or what they want others to do that is not beneficial to you. People everywhere are exposed to this without even knowing about it. This source is advertising and media. It’s an advertising company’s job to sell something to you or make you want to do something. And the internet is filled to the brim with things like the latest trends or challenges people are doing most of which will hurt you in some way. Things like the cinnamon challenge in which you try to swallow a spoon full of cinnamon without the use of water might get views or likes, but a large amount of cinnamon is known to cause problems. It can be toxic especially to those with liver problems. Also, trends inspired by things that celebrities supposedly do or use. Just because a celebrity sponsors something does not mean that it is better than other products. you have to think about what you’re buying and what will be best for you.

On a lighter note, let’s talk about positive indirect peer pressure. This is basically the same thing as the other one but the outcome is positive. For example, let’s say that all of your friends are signing up to work at an animal shelter. Since your friends are doing it, you decide to do it too. You end up really loving it and you’re helping these shelters find homes for the animals and helping the animals stay happy and healthy. Your friends did not tell you to do it but their choices impacted your decisions.

People everywhere need to be more informed about peer pressure so that they can be more aware of when it is happening. You probably already knew about negative peer pressure whether it was from the great David Bowie or from school, and now you know about positive peer pressure. I hope this was helpful to everyone who reads it!

Arguments.

by Olivia

Almost all humans have judged a person and made assumptions about them based on looks, most of the time without realizing what they’re doing. According to Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, we assume things about people within an average of 7 seconds, before even speaking to them. Just walking down the street, we assume all kinds of things about people, from popularity to personality. If we haven’t met these people or had any conversation with them, these assumptions are made entirely on looks. Whether it’s body shape or clothing, hair or accessories, thinking one way or another about someone before meeting them isn’t fair or kind.

There are a few different ways we judge people: maybe you’re in public and you see someone and make assumptions about their personality or ‘type’ based on what they’re wearing. Another way that people judge is when someone doesn’t buy you a birthday present. Maybe they couldn’t afford one. Or if someone texts something harsh and you get mad, they might have realized later that they didn’t mean it the way it sounded. In this blog post, I will mostly be talking about the first type of judging, where someone makes assumptions about a person before meeting them.

All of this judging comes from a lot of things, the main ones being society and stereotypes. They really go hand in hand. Society has taught us that nerds have glasses and girls have long hair, that thin is good and fat is bad. They taught us that nerds aren’t the right people to hang out with if you want to be ‘cool.’ Because society has put this into our heads, we automatically assume if a person is wearing glasses they are a nerd, and because they are a nerd they aren’t ‘cool’ and don’t deserve our attention or time. Glasses are meant to improve eyesight, not to be associated with popularity. We think that because someone’s shoes are dirty and they have a wrinkled shirt that they don’t care about their appearance or are sloppy. What if they’re poor and can’t afford something else? We see someone who is holding a Starbucks cup and think that they’re ‘cool’ and worth hanging out with, throwing the person with the glasses and the dirty shoes aside. These images that society has put into our heads using stereotypes are terrible and shouldn’t be supported when we judge people based on of them.

A person’s face can have a huge impact on our first impression of them. Blue eyes and blonde hair? Surf girl, from California. Milk mustache or food on face? Ugly, gross, immature. People have opinions on most things, like hairstyles, and that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t influence your feelings about the person. If you don’t particularly like pigtails, go ahead, but you can’t dislike someone because they’re wearing pigtails before you’ve met them . I have a pixie cut and I’m a girl, but a lot of people assume that I’m a boy, just looking at the hairstyle.

Clothing can also have a huge impact on who you like and don’t. It can be associated with what styles you like, and what new trends you like. If someone isn’t wearing your favorite color, why should you dislike them? Just because a person is wearing Crocs or a bright green shouldn’t affect what you think of them.

I’m going to have to admit a lot in this blog post, so here goes. When I find myself judging someone, rather than stopping I often try to find ways they could change their appearance to make a better impression on people, not just me. Do they have pimples? Use some pimple cream. Does their outfit not match? Learn from others that black complements everything. It’s absolutely terrible, and I feel terrible admitting that I think these things, but it’s true. After writing this, though, I have realized that I haven’t been judging people as much as I did before writing this. Now, sometimes when I’m in public, I’ll close my eyes and then look up and immediately think ‘friendly, hard working, kind’ to whoever I see first.

Although assuming facts and judging someone before meeting them is wrong, there are a few ways you can stop doing it. When you find yourself judging someone you haven’t met, forget what you would originally think of them and think of them as someone nice and someone you would be interested being friends with. Remember that their clothing or hairstyle should not determine what you think of them. Look at yourself. Would you like to be judged based off of your outfit? If you are in a public place (where introducing yourself wouldn’t be weird) introduce yourself to someone who you might have categorized as not a good person or someone who isn’t worth your time. Go to someone older than you, someone younger than you, someone the same age, anyone. Introduce yourself, say a few things about yourself. Ask them some questions. I can almost guarantee that the prediction that society and stereotypes put in your head won’t be true, and you could even find them as a new friend.

Why should personal styles determine what people think of you? Learning how to avoid judging people is very important. Judging is something that everyone can improve on, and learn from. When you find yourself judging, think of the person as a person, not a personality or type. Look at everyone as a person, instead of someone popular or nerdy. Judging can be stopped, but you need to start with yourself. Love yourself, and love everyone else.

Friends helping friends

by Amanda

Have you ever found the urge to compare yourself to others, or to look at the work of your peers in order to gain motivation and inspiration? You might even think that competing with your friends is a good thing, yet new research suggests it can do more harm than good.

A recent study exploring this—one conducted by Todd Rogers, associate professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Avi Feller, assistant professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley—found that when people are exposed to practices that praise the exemplary accomplishments of peers, they are more likely to have reduced motivation in completing and achieving their own work goals. In other words, when we see the excellent work of our peers being held up as an example, it can reduce our motivation rather than increase it. While it’s easy to think that publicly praising good examples of peer work should be an encouraging and motivating practice, new research clearly proves otherwise.

Leaders and companies regularly celebrate the excellent accomplishments of their more exemplary workers and students publicly, often hoping it will spark motivation and encourage others to reach the same levels of productivity. To find out whether it really does, the researchers observed and studied a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC ). They randomly split students into two groups—one group meant to assess average peer essays, while the other assessed above average peer work. Those who had been assigned to assess above average peer essays were dramatically more likely to fall behind and/or quit the course.

To follow up, researchers conducted an experiment which simulated a MOOC setting, in which they discovered that those assessing the more excellent peer essays mistakenly thought those essays must have been the norm, although they were much higher than the norm. Much like in the original MOOC setting, these students then expressed more disinterest in the task at hand than the students assessing average essays, and they too were more likely to quit the course. The researchers concluded that exposing students and workers to especially exemplary work or accomplishments is dramatically more discouraging to learners than exposing them to more “attainable social comparisons.”

Could this be similar to another phenomenon called “learned helplessness?” Learned helplessness is a form of giving up, and it is commonly seen when people have been repeatedly unsuccessful in reaching a goal, and as a result, they are conditioned to see it as unattainable.

The researchers do not make that connection, but given their findings, it’s easy to see how this effect applies in the world of not only education but the average workplace and work or learning environment. This research could have very important implications in real world settings since peer assessment is becoming a bigger part of both online and offline education. “Exemplar discouragement is powerful: Real students who assessed exemplary peers’ essays are substantially less likely to earn course credit than those who assessed average peers’ essays,” wrote Rogers and Feller. In their opinion, it’s also important for leaders and organizations to examine their motivational practices and patterns, and recognize where these practices can be rather discouraging.

So if comparing yourself to your peers isn’t helpful, what can you and your friends do instead to help one another improve? Peer encouragement is important, so one idea is to help your friends appreciate their own positive efforts and if you’d rather, you may even work together. Studies show that what makes us more productive is not competition, but our level of happiness, and what makes us happiest is our empathic connections with others. Working with others, giving to others, showing gratitude to others, and generally nurturing our relationships is what makes human beings mentally and physically healthy and happy—and successful.

So stop comparing yourself to your friends, classmates, and others in your peer group, and start reaching out to them instead. You will find you are better able to accomplish your goals when you develop empathy rather than competition.

adolescent peer relationships

by Zoë

How can a school environment change or influence the way people act? Middle and high school students are affected by many cliques and stereotypes, and sometimes adopt the habits and personality traits of the people they hang out with. This happens across a variety of school environments, ranging from small to large, public to private. The schools can be densely populated with thousands of students, or they can be intimate and quiet.

May is a girl who just started high school, has no friends yet, and is hoping to make some. She discovers the geeks, the populars, the jocks, and other cliques. Not knowing it, she sits with the popular kids at lunch, and begins to develop different personality traits to fit into the group. She goes from shy and insecure to overly confident and rude. May also develops bad habits: she sneaks out after curfew and steals things from the local convenience store. She follows the other girls and puts graffiti on the school bathroom walls, and disrespects her teachers. Her grades began to slip. May didn’t see anything was wrong with her behavior or the sudden change in her choices because she was fitting into the group.

What are some solutions? May could leave the popular group when she feels she is changing herself just to fit in. She also could try to steer the group in the right direction; for example, she could tell her friends that stealing is wrong. Peers, teachers and parents could reach out to May to help her see the problems and find solutions. There are many people who could talk to her about her experiences at school, and suggest ways to make new friends.

After talking with her family, friends and teachers once more, and thinking it out on her own, May made her decision. On the next Monday at lunch, she sat down with a new group, all the way across the dining hall from the popular kids. The group was a mix of mostly girls and a few boys, all from different grades and backgrounds. There didn’t seem to be a leader, or a particular “type” that she felt she needed to be. They were welcoming and friendly, which was especially nice since May felt shy all over again. After a week or two, her personality became warmer and gentler. She realized her new friends made her feel safe, helped her make the right decisions, and she felt herself becoming a nicer and better person. She was officially in her comfort zone, and not only did she feel better, but her new friends, teachers and parents were no longer worried about her.

A person can be influenced positively or negatively by their environment, and it affects all aspects of their health. There are six different types of health: mental, physical, spiritual, social, academic and emotional. It’s a good idea to reach out to someone if you notice they may be going along with the crowd and participating in negative behavior. By helping them to see there are options, it could change their whole perspective.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words;

Watch your words, for they become actions;

Watch your actions, for they become habits;

Watch your habits, for they become character;

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” —Lao Tzu

Cocobear-maze-of-exclusion

by Frankie

One day, my friends Katie, Aubrey, Korryn and I decided to try a maze room, a place where a bunch of staff lock you into a room and you work with your friends to escape with the resources in the room. There are many different maze rooms, from Demon Hunters to Prison Cell, and they usually consist of one main room and a bunch of other rooms that branch off and lead you to your escape.  There are only (at most) seven people allowed, so we had to exclude one of our friends, Jadyn.

The maze room requires wits, bravery, and  the ability to use your brain. Not to forget teamwork, which you cannot succeed without. This is what scared us. Our group, a bunch of zany, reckless middle-school students who are very unobservant and (sometimes) act like first-graders, aren’t necessarily fit for the job. Nevertheless, we decided to do it, because it sounded fun. At least we were good at teamwork.

Once we reached the limit with the number of people we could bring, we drove to Los Angeles to get to the maze room. Finding the actual building was a maze within itself. Once we found the building (which was up a sketchy looking set of stairs), we waited until a woman told us everything about the room. She said to ask for a hint if we needed one and explained that we only had sixty minutes. Then we went inside the room, where we saw a door to the left, a door to the right, a table with a chair against the wall, an end table, another table with a bunch of books on it, and a lamp in the corner. The table with the books also had several drawers below. It was very weird. When we looked to the left, paint on the wall read “The rat eats the furniture.” At that moment, Katie tripped on her foot, and landed beside the table with the chair, and picked something up. What a coincidence! It was the rat.

We didn’t know what to do after that. We were just wandering around, literally tearing the room apart. We must have gotten the rat for something. Aubrey’s mom took the rat and stuck it against everything, to see if anything else would happen. Korryn and I turned over the end table, only to find nothing. But there were weird markings on it as well. Aubrey’s mom put the rat against the markings and the end table, which was previously locked, opened up. Inside was a creepy photo of some dude, but there was a date on the back of  the photo. We typed in the date in a lock, and a box beside the door on the right opened. Inside was a metal rod. Okay . . . interesting. At that same moment, the door on the left opened, because Katie was fiddling around with the rat against the left door. We were told through a walkie-talkie that the door wasn’t supposed to open yet, so we closed it.

We didn’t know what to do for a while, so we asked for a clue through the walkie-talkie. The woman said to remove all the books. So we all did, and a small hole appeared, the perfect size to place the metal rod in. A drawer swung open below the table, and inside it had the code to escape the first room. We did. The rest of the maze room was full of random problem-solving, and we all worked together pretty equally. Once we escaped, which involved putting candles on all five tips of a pentagram, we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant nearby. But, that wasn’t all.  Because the joy of escaping and figuring out how to do so, and locking your brain into high gear was so thrilling, we HAD to do it again. We did the Demon Hunters one first. We had five minutes left to spare. That was medium difficulty. We decided to do the Soviet Spy one, where we were FBI agents that were trying to find the undercover Soviet spy. It was rated HARD DIFFICULTY LEVEL. We knew we could do it.

Just like the first location, this maze room was very hard to find. We had to go up a small elevator, then we walked along the second floor of the building until we found the maze room. A man welcomed us, and we were given fake mustaches and vests that had fake FBI names on it. It was amazing. We could already tell that this maze room was going to be the best. We went through a series of crazy steps, and one even involved a closet opening from the back. It was epic. We ended up finishing the room with fifteen minutes to spare. But all the crazy adventure made me think of Jadyn, whom we had excluded. I had to set things right, especially because all of my friends said she was going to be invited. It was a serious problem. After having the time of my life in a bunch of maze rooms, it was time to go back to school and face this.

I went up to Jadyn, and told her that we had gone and weren’t able to invite her because  there was no more room. I told her that it was wrong of me for going without telling her anything beforehand, and then we worked out a date where we could go and do something that was just the two of us. It took some planning, but after Spring Break, we did the Bean Boozled Challenge [a game of chance involving Jelly Beans], ate some delicious food, and hung out, spending lots of time having fun. Not only did I have a great time at the hangout with Jadyn, but I felt a lot better about our friendship.

If you are ever in the situation where you feel peer pressure to exclude someone, think twice and always include them.